A Qualitative Study to Explore Healthcare Providers’ Perspectives on End-of-Life Patients’ Dignity. How Can Dignity Be Defined, and Which Strategies Exist to Maintain Dignity?


Dignity is a core topic within palliative care, and thus, it is important to get a detailed assessment of healthcare providers’ (HCPs) perspectives on this subject. This study aimed to explore various HCPs’ perspectives on end-of-life patients’ dignity by collecting different testimonies about what dignity entails and which strategies HCPs use to maintain patients’ dignity. A sample of 104 participants was interviewed using two open questions to collect qualitative data. Content analysis was performed to identify the central themes among answers. Regarding the first question (“What comes to your mind when I say “Dignity” in relation to your patients?”), nine themes emerged. The majority sampled stated that dignity means respecting the patient by considering him/her as a person in his/her entirety. Two other themes frequently emerged: “Respect the patient’s will/wishes/needs” and “Self-determination/Self-expression.” Concerning the second question (“Which strategies do you use to maintain patients’ dignity?”), seven themes emerged. The “Caring skills” theme was most frequently identified, followed by “Empathic skills” and “Professional strategies.” This study has enabled a better understanding of HCPs’ perspectives on end-of-life patients’ dignity. Through the interviews, HCPs were given an opportunity to reflect on dignity, possibly helping them improve their understanding of their patients’ conditions and promote higher quality of care.

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The authors thank all the colleagues at the “Città della Salute e della Scienza” Hospital’s units, the Hospices’ staffs, and all the participants who took part in this study for their precious contribution.

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Correspondence to Andrea Bovero.

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All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional ethics committee of “Città della Salute e della Scienza” Hospital, protocol no. 0034403, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Bovero, A., Tosi, C., Botto, R. et al. A Qualitative Study to Explore Healthcare Providers’ Perspectives on End-of-Life Patients’ Dignity. How Can Dignity Be Defined, and Which Strategies Exist to Maintain Dignity?. J Canc Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-020-01808-z

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  • Dignity
  • Healthcare providers
  • End-of-life patients
  • Palliative care